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SWEEP Magazine and Cliff at the Finish Line

Sharing the tribute for Cliff that was published in the latest issue of Washington Rowing's SWEEP Magazine. Huge thanks to our dear friend Dwight Phillips who put this together. (page 10)


Many of you have asked about Cliff's celebration of life and we are looking forward to getting everyone together once it is safe to do so, which will likely be next summer. Our family was able to have a small celebration for Cliff in August, spending the day on Lake Washington in a little Husky electric boat. We spread Cliff's ashes across the UW finish line in the Montlake Cut, and Erika's boyfriend, Matt, put together a wonderful video to remember that day: https://vimeo.com/453793489

Thank you for your continued love and support,

The Hurn Family

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Tribute Video for Cliff

Cliff's Ancient Mariner teammates put together a lovely tribute video that we wanted to share - please enjoy the great photos of Cliff doing what he loved!

Thank you, Pocock RC and Ancient Mariners :)



Clifford E. Hurn 1950-2020

Cliff, aged 70, passed away after a year-long battle with esophageal cancer at his Clinton home on Monday, July 27th, 2020, surrounded by his wife and four children, their spouses, and his newborn grandchild.  

Cliff was born in Arlington, Washington on March 29th, 1950, to Ruby Armstrong and Jerry Hurn. He was one of seven siblings and spent most of his childhood in Arlington and Snohomish, graduating from Snohomish High School in 1968. Cliff lettered in cross country, wrestling, and track, while also performing in the high school band under the direction of his esteemed band leader, Mr. Peterson. With his tenor saxophone, Cliff had the memorable opportunity to go on a European tour with his bandmates, traveling for the first time on an airplane and experiencing new cultures in foreign countries. This experience sparked a love for traveling the world both for leisure and athletic competition.

Cliff’s dream was to attend the University of Washington and pursue a college degree, which he attained in Accounting from the School of Business. Because of his tall stature and sports experience, he received a recruiting letter inviting him to try out for the UW Rowing Team. At the time, high school rowing had not yet become popular, so Cliff was curious about what this sport entailed. Cliff’s strong work ethic and competitive spirit were traits that served him well as an oarsman. Even though his endurance and strength were legendary, his coaches soon learned that Cliff had great difficulty following his teammates and matching their rhythm. As an experiment, his Freshman coach tried him in the stroke seat so he could set the pace and flow of the boat. From that time on, Cliff competed at stroke for most of his remaining career. He earned the respect of his coaches and teammates who were inspired by his relentless workouts and his intense desire to win and excel at the sport he loved. Rowing became the major success and joy of his younger life, as Cliff and his teammates helped return the UW Crew Team to national prominence. More importantly, he accumulated many life-long friends along the way. Cliff won two Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championships and three National Association of Amateur Oarsmen (NAOO) championships, earning him the privilege to represent the United States in the UW Coxed Four at the 1970 World Rowing Championships in St. Catharines, Ontario, the UW Eight at the Pan American Games in 1971 in Cali, Colombia (Silver medal), and the UW Coxed Pair in 1973 in Moscow, Russia. During his career, he was selected as Inspirational Award winner and co-captain of the UW Varsity team. In 2004, Cliff and his teammates were inducted into the Husky Hall of Fame for their rowing achievements. His pursuits with his fellow teammates, both in and out of the boat, were fodder for many a tale repeated at gatherings of rowing friends throughout his life. Cliff was also well known for his stories and could entertain anyone who would listen, recounting one escapade after another without interruption for hours at a time. Many who loved Cliff will most likely remember his stories and his amazing memory for recounting details of long-ago events and races.  

In the latter part of his life, Cliff again resumed his passion for rowing when he joined the Ancient Mariners, a Seattle-based group of older men seeking a good physical workout and the camaraderie of rowers. These friendships with both seasoned rowers and those new to the sport brought good-natured ribbing and much enjoyment to Cliff in his senior years.

While at the U of W in early 1971, Cliff met the great love of his life, Janine Fischer, on a blind date arranged by Cliff and Janine's college roommates who thought they might be a good match. It proved to be good advice as Cliff and Janine married in 1973 and came to enjoy almost 50 years together, raising their family of two sons and two daughters. They later experienced the ultimate joy of grandchildren and proudly seeing their children become parents themselves. Cliff and Janine were also fortunate to enjoy many opportunities for travel, both for business and pleasure, to several destinations around the world.  

Cliff spent the majority of his working years in the roofing business, beginning with manufacturing of cedar shakes in the Hurn family business in Beaver. Cliff eventually came to own a residential roofing company, Legacy Roofing, which served the greater Seattle area for over 20 years, while making many valued friends in the roofing community.  

Aside from his rowing and business pursuits, Cliff's primary focus throughout his life was his faith in God and his devotion to his family. His four beloved children and three grandsons were the light of Cliff's life. Cliff is survived by his wife, Janine, their children Hans (Emily), Heidi (Chad), Stefan, and Erika, as well as grandsons Otto, Max, and Hendrix, and granddog Bailey. Cliff is also survived by siblings Charli, Jerry, Mary, Judy and Trisha, and multiple nieces, nephews, and in-laws who came to treasure Cliff’s unique sense of humor, ever-present smile, and zest for life. Cliff is preceded in death by his parents, Ruby and Jerry Hurn, and his sister Jeannette Hurn.  

Cliff’s Celebration of Life will be held at a later date when larger gatherings are permitted. Please refer to this CaringBridge for updates and more details as they develop. 

In lieu of flowers, we ask that you donate in Cliff's name to one of the following organizations that were close to his heart:

Washington Rowing: https://www.uwtyeeclub.com/support-husky-athletics/donate/?code=CREWFD  Please note "In Memory of Cliff Hurn" throughout the checkout process.

UW Medicine Oncology Division, GI Cancer Program Research Fund (under "Make a Gift"): https://depts.washington.edu/oncology/ 

Seattle Cancer Care Alliance: https://www.seattlecca.org/donate-and-volunteer/make-a-donation 


August 9, 2020

Dearest Friends and Family,

It is difficult to believe that it has been nearly 2 weeks since Cliff's passing. While we are still reeling with overwhelming grief and sadness, our spirits have been so uplifted by the outpouring of love and admiration for this big heart of a man we so dearly loved. Words can't begin to express our gratitude to all of you who have written lovely cards, emails and Facebook messages with your kind words of condolences, while often recounting a particular memory or experience with Cliff that touched your life. Thank you for taking the time to share these memories in detail with me and our family. Your memories mean the world to us and will help keep him alive in our hearts, now and always.

We had no idea Cliff had touched the lives of so many--some we are familiar with, others were unknown to us until now. We have been surprised and delighted to hear these. We knew of his gregarious personality, and the genuine interest he took getting to know people, even with strangers he just met. Cliff also often enjoyed calling up old friends and acquaintances "out of the blue" just to catch up. From many of your comments it seems that during this past year Cliff made contact with many people he had not visited with for years--even on days when he was feeling poorly. It was almost as if he knew his time was shorter than we all imagined. It is a lesson for all of us to realize what a difference it can make to reach out and make that connection with someone you care about. 

I also want to take this opportunity to thank those who have made donations in Cliff's memory to the various organizations previously mentioned in Heidi's email. We are so honored by these generous donations that will carry on Cliff's spirit while hopefully benefiting others. Our heartfelt thanks also to family and friends who have brought us flowers, gifts of food, and other thoughtful remembrances. You are all so appreciated and I hope in time to thank each one of you personally for your thoughtfulness.  

Lastly, I want to thank all of you who have sustained us with your prayers and words of encouragement over the past year. We truly felt the spiritual and emotional support, and will continue to be strengthened by them as we learn to move forward without the "captain of our ship". 

May God bestow His abundant blessings on each of you... 

With much love,
Janine and family--Hans and Emily, Heidi and Chad, Stefan and Erika

(Please continue to check this site for updates regarding the plan for Cliff's Celebration of Life--which may need to be postponed for several months until larger gatherings are permitted.)


July 27, 2020

Dear friends,

Cliff passed away early this morning, surrounded by his wife, children and newest grandson. We are heartbroken at the loss of our Poppa and Opa, but relieved that he is no longer in pain. We plan to hold a celebration of Cliff's life once it is safe to gather. 

In lieu of flowers, we ask that you donate in Cliff's name to one of the following organizations that were close to his heart:

Washington Rowing: https://www.uwtyeeclub.com/support-husky-athletics/donate/?code=CREWFD 
Husky Rowing will be selected, and you can press the red "X" to remove Huskies All In COVID-19 Response Fund. **Please note "In Memory of Cliff Hurn" throughout the process**

UW Medicine Oncology Division, GI Cancer Program Research Fund (under "Make a Gift"): https://depts.washington.edu/oncology/ 

Seattle Cancer Care Alliance: https://www.seattlecca.org/donate-and-volunteer/make-a-donation 

We welcome your comments for the family on this site, or you may send a note to Janine at 4815 Verbena Lane, Clinton WA 98236. Your stories and loving messages have been especially comforting to our family during this hard time. Thank you for all of your love and support.

All our love,
The Hurn Family


July 24, 2020

Hi Family and Friends,

Just wanted to update all of you regarding the events of this past week. Cliff was brought onto Hospice last night, following a very challenging week. Last weekend, and particularly this past Monday, Cliff became suddenly and exceedingly more short of breath, even at rest. Walking just a few steps was causing rapid breathing and a sharp drop in his oxygen level. Tuesday we returned to SCCA for more diagnostic tests to determine what was going on.  

The chest X-Ray done Tuesday actually revealed a somewhat stable R lung, with existing metastatic tumors, but slightly less pleural effusion.  His labs all checked out either stable or slightly improved. Due to his severity of breathlessness and low oxygen sats he was sent for a lung CT scan, to identify any possible reason for his symptoms that could not be visualized by X-Ray.  Unfortunately, the scan revealed multiple pulmonary emboli (clots) in his "good" left lung, which were causing the drop in his blood oxygen, as well as shortness of breath with even minimal exertion. Since he now has compromised breathing in both lungs, it no longer makes sense to pursue further treatment that would add to his discomfort.

Cliff now requires continuous oxygen by nasal cannula at 3-4 L to keep from being severely "hypoxic", or low on oxygen. He is also extremely weak, fatigues easily after just a few steps, and has little appetite, as eating also takes up oxygen. Because of Cliff's current condition, I am asking for all but immediate family, to refrain from visiting. Texts and emails are welcomed! When Cliff is awake and able, he enjoys hearing from the people he loves--however, any talking on the phone leaves him breathless and low on oxygen.

Our kids have all come to visit their Poppa, many of them staying with us and doing their "working from home" jobs for a few days from our home on Whidbey.  So... I couldn't be prouder, or more grateful, of our kids help and loving presence. Each one and their spouses are contributing to Cliff's care, taking the "night-watch shifts" sleeping beside his hospital bed--or  cooking, cleaning, shopping for groceries--and doing helpful things like organizing our garage, home, and garden to minimize my tasks, and allow me more time to care for Cliff. He has the "salon room suite" set up now on the main floor, complete with caregiver bed nearby, to avoid any need for him to go up the stairs. 

We have been surrounded the past 24 hours by the loving support from the amazing Whidbey Hospice team I have worked with for the past 2 years.  From the rapid admission done Thursday evening, to the special visit with Dr. Sanders this morning, we have been getting the VIP treatment, and are overwhelmed with gratitude.  Dr. Sanders suggested putting Cliff on a long-acting opioid patch to help reduce feelings of breathlessness, so Heidi is picking up that RX this afternoon. We now have all the tools in the "Comfort Kit " to keep Cliff breathing easier and more comfortable here at home. No more exhausting trips to Seattle for treatment--that will be nicer, for sure!  

The kids have told me that today is "National Tequila Day"... so we will be celebrating with Lingcod fish tacos and tequila drinks on our deck (except for Cliff :)) while we soak up the blessings of being home with our family, taking one day at a time. We again feel God's presence with us daily...and trust in His never-ending care. Thank you so much again for all your ongoing  prayers and positive thoughts for Cliff, myself, and our family during this time of transition. We are deeply grateful...and I will continue to send updates as much as possible in the days ahead. 

God bless you all---and may you stay safe and healthy!
With Love, Cliff and Janine



July 13, 2020

Hello to all our friends and family,

We can't thank you enough for all the wonderful messages of caring and support sent to us after our 7/9 post--your words mean so much to Cliff, myself, and our family. I only wish I had time to answer each one! Many of you have asked how it went after the first day of Keytruda immunotherapy on Friday--so here is our report so far: 

First of all, God must have paved the way, because after receiving our disheartening scan results last Thursday, a spot was found for Cliff the very next day on Friday to initiate the first dose of Keytruda. Even our oncologist was amazed that we were able to start so soon! Cliff was also assigned to our favorite 7th floor, with several nurses we already know (with the only recliner on the floor that provided "heated massage" as well--). The infusion was truly a breeze--the actual infusion only took 30 minutes--and then we we went home! (Compared with the chemo that took most of one day at the clinic and then home on a pump for 2 more days after that--)

To top it off, it was one of our rare sunny days with blue sky and a great view of Lake Union from Cliff's room. The atmosphere surrounding the day just felt more hopeful and positive, difficult to articulate, but just really felt "right". After being told of all the side effects that could possibly happen, we waited for the infusion to be finished with some mild anxiety, but I think we both had a gut feeling that all would be well. In fact, Cliff felt absolutely normal--no side effects at all!  I waited for us to make it through the weekend before writing this post, but I have to say...Cliff is feeling OK, even at times somewhat better, which is very encouraging..:) 

Constant fatigue is expected from both the cancer progression and the Keytruda, just as with the chemo--so this has not changed much. Cliff remains quite weak, and still takes long naps and sleeps many hours at night, but when he wakes up he seems a little more alert to me, and more rested. We are very grateful that, so far, Cliff has not experienced any of the more serious side effects. The lung drainage and rib pain have not changed, however the meds seem to be controlling the discomfort fairly well. Eating, and preventing weight loss, are ongoing concerns, but he's trying to eat every couple hours, as he can only tolerate smaller portions at a time. At least his taste buds are beginning to return to normal so he is starting to enjoy food again.😊 

The next Keytruda infusions will be scheduled every 3 weeks, with some labs drawn in between to keep an eye on things. It is so nice to have a couple weeks now without multiple trips to Seattle.
So, we are feeling extremely blessed to be in this position. We know it is early, but for now we are remaining hopeful, and feel there is a decent chance to buy some time if this immunotherapy works. Time will tell...but we truly feel the prayers from all of you, as well as our own, are making a difference! Despite our initial misgivings, hearing about all the potential side effects, we are very grateful that immunotherapy was an option--as we thankfully leave chemotherapy behind. 

Cliff is one heck of a strong guy, giving it his all, and we are just so proud of his fighting spirit! We believe that God is steering our course, and no matter what the outcome, the outpouring of love and faith from our family and friends will see us through. I will keep you posted on any developments in the days ahead.   God's Blessings and our love to each of you-- Janine and Cliff


July 9, 2020

Our dear family and friends--

We wanted to bring you all up to date as so many of you were waiting for this information. Cliff had his blood tests and CT scan yesterday, and the results revealed in our visit this morning with Dr. Shankaran were pretty much what we expected due to the lack of improvement with his fatigue and lung drainage. The scan unfortunately revealed multiple new lesions in the right lung, as well as a new lesion on the adrenal gland of one of his kidneys--all further evidence that despite potent chemotherapy Cliff's cancer is the aggressive, fast-growing kind--the malignancy of which surprised even our seasoned oncologist. The bottom line is that the chemo-herceptin combination did nothing to slow the cancer down, and was poorly tolerated, so Cliff will not be getting any more chemo. His blood counts are now below normal, no doubt from a combination of chemo toxicity and the  frequency of lung drainage needed to alleviate his shortness of breath. 

So--our two remaining choices now include:
1) A trial with immunotherapy, namely Keytruda,(pembrolizamab) which is given every 3 weeks by  IV infusion through his port. Chances are that his cancer will grow faster than the onset of effectiveness from Keytruda--but it is worth a shot. When it does work, Keytruda can bring longer life expectancy than with chemo--and it does not lower the blood counts. There are, of course, other possible side effects, some of them serious, but seems better tolerated overall by more people than with chemo. 

Cliff will be monitored very carefully for adverse effects with the Keytruda and the treatment will be discontinued if seen. Some patients, however, have virtually no side effects. We just got word that his first cycle of Keytruda is already scheduled for tomorrow, Friday, 7/10 at SCCA in Seattle--our team is just  amazing with proceeding so quickly.  Please keep your  prayers and positive thoughts going as we pursue this new course. It was Cliff's decision to give this a go--and although realistic of the chances to slow this down, we are always hopeful for any possible miracle giving us more time together. 

2) Hospice Care is our 2nd option, and Cliff is eligible at any time-- and he just happens to have a wife who knows a little something about the program..:) Quality of life is most important to all of the family, so if immunotherapy fails to deliver, or is not well tolerated, we'll move him into Hospice care when appropriate. Our goal is for Cliff to live as well and as comfortably as possible. We know Hospice is a great option for comfort care, especially after knowing all reasonable avenues for treatment have been explored, and we have no regrets that we missed any life-extending opportunity.  

We are honestly feeling both sadness and anger that this cancer is so aggressive, especially after all that Cliff courageously dealt with during this past year to fight it. However, overriding these feelings is an immense sense of appreciation for the great life we've had together, and the renewed closeness our family shares appreciating the wonderful husband, father, and grandfather that we have been blessed with. 

I've enclosed some recent pictures of our family in June and July--as well as from a visit with Cliff and his crew buddies just a week ago :) Thank you again for being with us throughout his illness, offering your love, friendship and spiritual support. We are indebted to all of you--and we will continue to keep you updated as best we can. 

With our gratitude,
Cliff, Janine and family